In today's gospel reading from St. Mark we hear about an internship that Jesus provided for the twelve apostles. He gave them a training period where they would learn by experience how to do the work for which they were chosen; the work of evangelization. At this point in the public life of Jesus the apostles were still new to this work. They had not yet learned everything that they would need to know in order to establish Christ's church here on earth. We hear several times later in the gospel story that the apostles did not yet recognize that God's kingdom was a heavenly one, not an earthly kingdom. During the passion Peter denied Jesus three times, Judas betrayed him, and most of the others simply ran away from the events of Christ's suffering and death. Yet these are the same men that Jesus chose as his apostles. They are the ones for whom he provided this internship not long after they had been chosen. In order to help them during this internship, Jesus gave the apostles extraordinary powers. St. Mark tells us that the apostles were able to drive out demons from those possessed and to cure people of various maladies after anointing them with oil. These are awesome powers far beyond the capabilities of ordinary people. Yet for this internship Jesus provided the apostles with these powers.
For me, the natural question here is why? Why did Jesus give the apostles these great powers? And what was his purpose in providing them with this internship? To answer that question I turn again to the image of the internship. Interns learn by the experience of getting involved in the work of their employer. Jesus was the employer of the apostles, and as a good employer he wanted them to learn by experience. He wanted them to do the same work that he was doing. The work of preaching, teaching and healing. But in order to do this work, the apostles would need the powers that Jesus now gave them. As a good employer, he gave them what they would need to succeed.
I think that the mission of the twelve apostles demonstrates the trust and confidence that Jesus had in them. They were not yet completely ready for the mission they would undertake when Jesus left this world. But they were good men and completely loyal to Jesus. They were ready to go and do as he did. They were ready to learn from the experiences they would have. And so Jesus sent them out two by two on this missionary journey or internship. They returned much the better for their experiences.
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